Anastasia Suen

Developmental Editor

Category: craft (Page 2 of 22)

Working Step by Step

“I used to work in bursts of intuition. Now I find the very process of working step by step feeds my imagination.” Anne Truitt

It’s so fun to begin working on a new idea. But after the inspiration fades –and it will– what happens to your project?

Earlier this week I saw a link to an article titled: The uncomfortable secret to creative success is “disequilibrium”. I had to click through and see what it said.

The author, Sandy Speicher, is a partner at IDEO, a global design company so the article was about how a design team creates.

Inside the article was IDEO’s “Mood Meter” graphic:

“Years ago, IDEO developed a tool called the “Mood Meter” to help prepare newcomers for design projects. It’s a graphic that shows the journey of the design process with various levels of joy and anxiety charted on it.” Sandy Speicher

It’s the opposite of the charts that I use for mapping a story, because I like to show the tension in the story as a mountain that the main character (and the writer) has to climb. A mountain rises in the middle, and this mood chart is a deep valley of feelings.

As far as moods go, however, I have to say that this accurately reflects the moods that I (and the writers I work with) experience. As the project progresses and leaves that fun “insights” phase, the book turns into WORK and the mood drops.

Q. When you feel bad about your project, how do you keep going?
A. Show up at the page.

A book begins with insight, but to make something new, you have to break new ground. You have to allow yourself to feel uncomfortable. The work that you do when you are uncomfortable, when you are experiencing disequilibrium, is what will lead to your next breakthrough.

Figuring out what to do is hard.

This is where the creative habit enters the picture. If you show up at the page and write everyday, no matter how you feel, you can move your project forward step by step. Just keep writing–whether you think it is “good” or not. Capture every idea that come to you . . .

. . . and then show up at the page the next day and do it again

. . . and again

. . . and again.

Nature creates step by step. You can, too.

Will you show up at the page
and write everyday this week?

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Failure or Success?

“I have not failed 10,000 times; I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that did not work.” Thomas Edison

Ah, chapter 5, I wrote you day after day after day . . .
and found almost 10,000 ways that you DIDN’T work this week.

I wrote draft after draft, trying idea after idea, until finally . . .
the pieces all fit together.

Was that a failure?
Or was it a success?

It depends on how you look at it. Trying new ideas until one fits can be viewed either way.

Q. Is the book a failure because nothing seems to work yet?
A. Some days it feels that way.

Q. On the other hand, is it realistic to expect to find the piece that fits just right without any effort?
A. Not really. That’s why we write more than one draft.

We number our drafts (first draft, second draft, etc.) because we always write more than one. So why consider the need to write a new draft a failure if that is the way the creative process works?

Writing more than one draft of your book means you are succeeding, not failing! Don’t expect to find all of the pieces that fit in your story right away.

Magical thinking can be fun to read in a story, but it’s not a practical way to approach your writing.

magical thinking
“a belief that merely thinking about an event in the external world can cause it to occur.”
Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 9th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.

Things don’t just happen because you want them to happen.
Things happen because you WORK to make them happen.

You’re not going to find all of the pieces that fit in your story right away.
You’re not going to find all of the pieces that fit if you stop writing either.

Will you keep writing this week
even when things don’t quite fit yet?

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Just Keep Writing

“Do one thing everyday that scares you.” Eleanor Roosevelt

For many writers, that “one thing” is the story we are writing.


Well, speaking for myself, I find this to be the case when the writing isn’t going well, when the words aren’t flowing, and things are just NOT working out.

Hmm . . .

But if I STOP working on the story at this point, it only makes things worse.


Not working on the story when I am stumped makes it a BIG deal,

and that makes it scarier,

and if I put it off even longer . . .

it gets even MORE difficult.

Writing a book is just like being the main character in a book.

When the story begins, things are going just fine…
and then the trouble starts. (This is the end of Act 1.)
In Act 2, things get worse . . .
and worse . . .
and WORSE!
Act 2 ends with a moment of ENLIGHTENMENT
when the main character (or the writer!) figures out what to do . . .
In Act 3, there is a massive struggle,
and finally, success!

In MOST of the story, the main character does NOT succeed.
Things go wrong — over and over and OVER again.

For MOST of the story, the writer does NOT succeed.
Things go wrong — over and over and OVER again.

The only way the main character (or the writer!) will succeed is to KEEP GOING . . .

Is it scary?
Is it frustrating?
Is it how the creative process works?

If you don’t keep writing, you won’t get to the end of Act 2.
If you don’t keep writing, you won’t reach the moment of ENLIGHTENMENT.

Will you do one scary thing
each day –and keep writing?

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Page 2 of 22

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